The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, headed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will be holding hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on June 12, a committee spokesperson tells Metro Weekly.
"Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination. Workplace discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation," Harkin said in a statement announcing the hearing.
"This upcoming HELP Committee hearing will provide an excellent opportunity to build on the Committee's previous work and help advance our shared goal of equal rights for all Americans," he said. "I am hopeful that working together, we will reach a point where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons enjoy the same rights and protections, and full equality, as all our fellow Americans."
The announcement comes on the heels of Greg Sargent's report in The Washington Post this morning that a bipartisan group of senators was calling on Harkin to schedule such a hearing.
Today Dem Senators Jeff Merkley and Bob Casey and GOP Senators Mark Kirk and Susan Collins (who are both Republicans) will release a letter calling on the Senate health and labor committee to hold hearings on ENDA.
Following that report, the Human Rights Campaign echoed their call, with president Joe Solmonese saying in a statement, "What matters in the workplace is how you do your job but unfortunately no federal law bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We encourage the Senate HELP Committee to schedule a hearing on this critical bill."
HRC, Freedom to Work and others have been calling on the Senate to schedule this hearings and hold a mark-up on the bill.
On April 16, Freedom to Work founder Tico Almeida told Metro Weekly that more would be needed than holding a hearing.
"A hearing alone is not enough," he said. "They should follow it up with a mark-up, just as Sen. [Patrick] Leahy of Vermont [(D)] did with Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee."
A mark-up allows amendments to be offered to the legislation and would set up a committee vote on the legislation.